"Paul Kirk" PaulKirk's Profile
I'm a regular holiday traveller and in recent years I've been able to do more thanks to the budget airlines like Easyjet and Ryanair. I try to have 3 main holidays a year for 7-8 days which leaves a couple of weeks for long weekend breaks throughout the rest of the year.
I'm a European traveller. I've never really been interested in going further afield and I've visited most of the countries in Europe.
Some of that travel was linked to football. I'm an Aston Villa fan and we used to play in Europe! See Chapter 2.
I tend to head for the hills. I like mountain scenery and walking. I'm lucky in having a good crowd of friends who share my interests. You'll see reference to Kirk's Tours which is our unofficial name. My brother Tony and I tend to do the organising for our trips. Our motto is "Will the Kirk's Tour party please assemble in the bar!"
I have been known to drink a few beers. See Chapter 3.
My favourite place is Garmisch Partenkirchen in Bavaria and I've got the place logged in my travel pages. See Chapter 4.
I've done a list of favourite places and why. See Chapter 5.
Having said that there are very few places I haven't liked. See Chapter 6. If you like meeting people and having a few jars there's usually something good wherever you go and I'm easy to please.
I like music and over the years whenever I hear certain songs they remind me of places I've visited. Chapter 7 lists some of those songs.
In over 25 years there is only one person who is no longer welcome and I've saved Chapter 8 for "The Hen". I'm sure everyone else has gone away with someone and regretted it. Perhaps VT should set up a site so we can share those experiences and have a laugh about it.
I'm a Villa fan whilst the crowd I travel with are a mixed bag of Villains, Bluenoses (Birmingham City) and Baggies (West Bromwich Albion). Meeting other fans is usually a good recipe for a laugh and there's always plenty of funny stories about the trials and tribulations of following a football team. Like most people of my age group I don't go as often as I used too. It's expensive and I miss the terraces. I used to go home and away but now I spend the money on budget flights.
Villa won the European Cup in 1982 and I was there whilst we had a good spell of qualifying for Europe which got me around a few places. I'd like to do it again if the club would take note and earn their money for a change.
I've done most of the grounds in the league. A spell in the Third Division helped. The best places are too many to mention. The worse places were Leeds and Millwall. Thanks lads!
I like drinking beer and one of the great things about travelling around Europe is that is gives me lots of opportunities of trying the local brew.
I rarely drink lager in England. Eurofizz made in Northampton is not for me. But on the Continent they brew some proper stuff and very nice it is too! The best places for beer are Belgium and Bavaria whilst Czech beer comes close.
If you can't find something you like in Belgium it's a poor show. There is such a range to choose from. There are 100's to choose from and whilst I've tried a lot there's still enough to try to make me look forward to my next visit. Basic beers are blonde, amber or bruin whilst there are fruit and wheat beers too. And of course there's the trappist beers originally made in monasteries and they're usually amongst the strongest. My favourites are Hoegaarden, Corsendonck and St Bernadus 12.
Bavarian beer has a good range too and I'm a big fan of the wheat beers like Erdinger and Franziskaner. And with Lowenbrau and Paulaner you can't go wrong.
Czech beers are popular in the UK but much better on home soil and they certainly brew some potent stuff. EKU Culminator is one of the strongest.
The rest of Europe is not up to the same standard but you can usually find something that's OK in the short term.
And it always a good discussion if you try to name the worst beers you have ever tried. Here's 10 to be going on with where I suggest you cut out the middle man and throw it straight down the toilet.
Jever (Germany) Gosser (Austria)
Amstel (Holland) Poperings Hommel (Belgium)
Ocacim (Poland) Maredsous (Spain)
Konigsbacher (Germany) Zipfer (Austria)
Moretti (Italy) Super Bock (Portugal)
Everyone should have a favourite destination and Garmisch is mine.
I first went in 1980 and now I go back every year at some time. It's quiet and sometimes you wonder where everyone is. It's beautiful and the scenery is superb. It's the best walking and hiking area I know. The people are friendly. The beer's great and the food is unfussy and plentiful.
I've never had a bad time there and that includes one summer when it rained for a fortnight.
If my other trips don't meet their expectations I know that my annual trip to Garmisch is guaranteed to be a good one.
That's why I chose Garmisch as my VT Travel page.
I chose three for the medal positions but could have chosen more.
I'm interested in the Great War and Ypres is one of the major battlefields. It's surounded by Cemeteries and Memorials and we usually hire bikes at the railway station and cycle round the area. It's great cycling country and there's lots to see. The last post ceremony at the Menin Gate at 8pm every night is an experience and there's often an additional ceremony. There are several museums and Grote Markt is a fine medeival square where there are lots of bars to enjoy your favourite Belgian beers.
Cortina D'Ampezzo (Italy)
Cortina is in the Dolomites are superb. There are plenty of hiking trails but they're not well signposted. There are a number of cable cars to get to the higher slopes and there's some really good Great War stuff at Cinque Torri and Falzarego.
Most of the bars and restaurants are on Via Italia and can get crowded.
For beer drinkers there's the bonus of Belgian and German beers in some of the bars and English beer on sale in the Co-operitiva.
Not an obvious choice but well worth the visit to enjoy the nightlife in Casco Viejo especially on Friday and Saturday nights. It's packed. It's lively and it's fun. The people are so friendly and if some of the bars are a bit tatty, who cares! Forget the beer and get the Kalamucho (Red wine and Coke) in. Try the local cider and be amazed at how they pour it. There's a good Metro system and the bars around San Mames when Athletic are at home are a sight to see. The new town is smart and it's good to see how the town is being improved.
There's a narrow gauge railway system that goes to the coast and even to Santander and San Sebastian but it's not quick.
Apologies to Berlin, Kitzbuhl, Zakopane, Madrid, Rome, Dusseldorf, Berchtesgaten, Bruges, Lake Garda, and Dublin. You're all favourites too.
If you travel regularly you have to find some places that you don't like. Perhaps I went on a bad day or was expecting too much
Copenhagen - expensive and a real letdown. No real centre. I've seen better funfairs than the Tivoli Gardens. The reason it's called the little mermaid is because it's little. Take some binoculars.
Hofbrauhaus Munich - full of American and Japanese tourists who insist on Take Me Home Country Road or the Birdie Song. Selling beer that goes flat in litres doesn't seem a good idea to me. Great for photos but not for drinking. Getting thrown out for singing didn't help either!
Innsbruck - the guides mention the Golden roofs but you can't see them for the drab modern buildings. Dreadful beer and not many bars.
Lisbon - surely the worst capital city in Europe.
Liege - the riffiest hotel I've ever stopped in didn't help but somehow seemed appropriate.
Lake Bled - it looks bigger in photos.
Dortmund - probably the drabbest German city I've been too and as a brewing centre what really surprised me was the lack of decent bars.
Florence - did nothing for me. Could only get a hotel for one night and was pleased to leave the next day.
Whenever I hear certain songs they remind me of places I've visited like:-
American Pie (Don Mclean) Koblenz
Solidarity (Angelic Upstarts) Bilbao
Money for Nothing (Dire Straights) Ouistreham
Misty Morning Albert Bridge (Pogues) Bingen
Refugee (Tom Petty) Amsterdam
Thin Red Line (Saxon) Dusseldorf
Thunderstruck (AC/DC) Ljubjana
One Step Beyond (Madness) Nancy
Faith Healer (Alex Harvey) Berchtesgaten
All I want for Christmas is a
Dukla Prague Away Kit
(Half Man Half Biscuit) Ypres
Everyone has the misfortune of travelling with someone who is a pain in the arse. For me it's The Hen. Someone once described him as a mother hen looking after her chicks and the nickname stuck. Awkward doesn't describe him. Want to go somewhere? He wants to go somewhere else! Get a taxi? Forget it! There's a bus next week. Sit inside? He wants to sit outside. Have another beer ? He wants to go.
Self catering becomes a nightmare. Can he cook? No! No salt or seasoning and cook everything for hours. His best meal on a German menu would be Graufleisch, grau kartoffeln mit grau gemuse! He stacks empty yogurt pots! He checks the bin to find things that shouldn't be in there. You can't go into the first hotel you find. He wants to check out at least 10 others. He remembers whose light on their rounds. He settles group bills on his credit card and rounds everything up and makes a profit. He bought a round of beers for 12 marks 97 and demanded the 3 pfennigs change!
He doesn't get invited any more!
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